[EDITORIALS]Returned treasures

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[EDITORIALS]Returned treasures

Forty-seven volumes of the Mount Odae copy of the Annals of the Joseon Dynasty are to be returned to Korea after 93 years.
The annals are a Korean National Treasure and an entry in Unesco's Memory of the World Register.
In 1913, during the Japanese occupation, Masatake Terauchi, the first governor-general of Korea, sent these records to Japan.
The return of these annals is very meaningful because taking these annals symbolized that Japan had successfully seized power on the peninsula.
The records are also regarded as important academic materials.
The Buddhist community and a special committee that hasbeen trying to bring back the annals deserve compliments.
These people are patriots in the truest sense of the word.
This return was agreed to by civic representatives of both countries and has become a good example of the return of cultural properties that Japan looted.
The decision to return the annals came when the tension between Korea and Japan had been increasing because of the dispute over the Dokdo islets, Japan’s fabrication of history textbooks and Japanese leaders’ visits to the Yasukuni Shrine.
Thus, this will likely help both countries to enhance their relations.
Japan agreed to return the Bukgwan Victory Monument in October last year, and it is now in South Korea before its trip to the North later this year.
In February a Japanese professor donated 2,700 creations by Kim Jeong-hee, a master of calligraphy, to the city of Gwacheon with no conditions attached.
These incidents illustrate that problems in current Korea-Japan ties have resulted from the antics of some right-wing Japanese politicians and that there are other Japanese who have consciences.
About 74,000 properties have been looted and 34,000 items, or 46 percent, reportedly still remain in Japan. These articles include only those items which are on display in museums and galleries there. Many more pieces almost certainly remain in Japan in private hands.
We cannot leave the return of these properties to the private sector because there are limits on what individuals can do. The government should work on this issue.
The Cultural Heritage Administration should make efforts to bring looted properties home instead of conducting less urgent projects.
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